QA Pro Rules and Amateur Rules

By Frank ThomasJune 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email
Dear Frank,
Ive enjoyed reading your articles and opinions about the game of golf and its direction. As a recreational player, I also thank you for your contributions to the game.
Jay Sigel
Jay Sigel quizzes Frank about clubhead speed on 'Ask Frank,' Monday July 2 at 11:00 p.m. ET on GC. (WireImage)
I realize many in the game of golf as well as yourself strongly believe in one set of rules for all players. So here are my questions:How do you justify your 10 club proposal for the professional but not for the recreational player? Why is this different from having different equipment standards for different levels of play? I would like to thank you in advance for any attention you might give to the questions, and keep up the great work!

Thank you for your kind comments. My strong feeling is that we dont need two sets of rules for numerous reasons, one of which is that it is very impractical. Golf is one of the few sports where amateurs and professionals play on the same field at the same time and compete against each other.
Bifurcation would require that somewhere in the process of qualifying for the US Open, for example, suddenly the Pro Rules must be adopted. My question is, should this enforcement happen at the club championship, collegiate, state or sectional qualifying level, or whenever we play rounds that develop the specific handicap required for entry purposes? Think about this awkward little practical detail. Its just one of several fundamental issues we would have to deal with if we had two sets of rules.
Another concern is the overall effect that two sets of rules have on one game, especially when theres one set for .001% of the population and another set for the rest of us. If there are problems associated with the play of the superstars, the elite golfers we admire, then lets first define the problem and find solutions that address it most effectively without disrupting the game as a whole.
Most discussion of adopting two sets of rules invariably comes back to the distance the superstars can drive the ball, and concern that accuracy is no longer part of the skill required to dominate. My belief is that we can deal with this through strategic course set up at those events where the identification of the most skillful and a true champion is the only objective.
If, and only if, further confines are needed to distinguish the skill of players, then I believe the form of bifurcation should be the least disruptive proposal possible. Instead of making an equipment performance standard the distinguishing factor, reduce the number being used -- not different clubs for different groups, but only a further restriction on the number that can be carried. That way, I believe we can forestall any further talk of two sets of rules. I dont believe we need two sets of rules, but if it becomes an inevitability then the ten club proposal seems to me the best option.
I would like to hear from our readers if they think that two sets of rules -- one for the pros and one for the rest of us -- is a good idea for our game. Please click here to vote and to read more about this question.
Thank you again for you kind remarks and your concern for the health of our wonderful game.
I was wondering about the difference between the low end clubs that are sold at the big chain retail stores and all other name brand clubs available.I know you get what you pay for, but what is the real difference between, say, a 40-dollar low end driver and a 200-dollar name-brand driver. I've been told that my clubs are just fine for golfing, and spending more would be a waste of my money.
I've also been told that better clubs will not make you a better golfer, if your swing is true and you have good club speed then the equipment shouldn't really matter. But is there a point where you say to someone, 'You know, your game would really improve if you got rid of those cheap clubs, and spent some money on some real equipment'?
Thanks in advance

I do like your question, as this is on the minds of many golfers who believe they shouldnt have to pay so much for the latest equipment. Its good to keep in mind that no new club is going to give you good results if you have bad swing mechanics, no matter what its promotional materials might imply. Still, I would like to suggest that if youre serious about your game, then going for a 'disposable' driver at $40 instead of one of the brand names is not a smart move. If you bought a car that cost 20% of the price of the average new car, youd wonder about how safe and well-built it could be, wouldnt you? Youd be leery of eating food that was on sale at 80% off too, I hope.
No driver in the marketplace is going to correct a bad swing; thats the job of a pro and a lesson and some practice. But a club thats been made too cheaply wont often give you the same good results when you do make a good swing, and that can be discouraging.
Assuming you have a reasonable swing but not a fat wallet and would like to make sure that equipment is not holding you back, I suggest you look around for last years model. Even a two year old model driver is very good and very close to being as sophisticated as the brand new versions. It doesnt have to be a major brand name, but the ' disposable' version will most probably not have the properties youre looking for. I almost feel ashamed to admit it, but my driver is a good friend, a very good friend, and almost four years old. I have a five handicap and am thinking about upgrading, but having hit most of the newer clubs I feel that the advantage I will gain can be overshadowed by a few extra hours a month Id have to spend on the range working on my technique and pre-shot routine.
Ives, when your wallet fattens up a bit and youre reasonably comfortable with your swing, then there is no harm in going for broke and buying the latest and greatest -- if for no other reason than it will make you feel good, which might even affect your swing for the better. If you are serious about your game I would leave the 'disposable' version in the hardware store.
Click to purchase the Frog PutterFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”